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Indications That An Elder Loved One Needs Help

clutter clean Life is busy. Too busy to worry about our elder loved ones. You know how it goes. You wake up, get the kids fed, dressed and ready for school. Maybe you drop them off at school, maybe they take the bus and you head straight to work. It’s a long, stressful day. You come home to a loud house, make dinner and/or help with homework get the kids fed, bathed and into bed. God willing, you get an hour to watch your favorite show or snuggle with your honey, before you crash. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Help-at-home Who has the time to check in on their parents? Certainly not us…except we must find the time. Seriously, when was the last time your elders said that they needed help? Never right? That’s because it’s in the DNA of all parents to help their children, not the other way around. That’s why we have to check in, maybe play a little detective and figure out when they’re in need. Not always an easy thing to do.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on that indicate your loved ones need some assistance.


  • Sleeping for most of the day
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Difficulty keeping track of time
  • Forgetfulness, including forgetting to take medications or taking incorrect dosages
  • Missing important appointments
  • Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
  • Difficulty getting up from a seated position
  • Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility
  • Poor diet or weight loss
  • Marks or wear on walls, door jams, furniture and other items being used to help with stability while walking through the home
  • Unexplained bruising or injuries
  • Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
  • Consistent use of poor judgment (e.g. falling for scams or sales pitches, giving away money)


  • Extreme clutter
  • Dirty laundry piling up
  • Stains or wet spots on furniture
  • Little or no fresh food in the refrigerator
  • Stacks of unopened mail
  • Unexplained dents in the car
  • Late payment notices


  • Infrequent bathing
  • Unpleasant body odor
  • Unkempt hair, untrimmed nails, lack of oral care
  • Wearing stained clothing

If you’re noticing a combination of these signs, have a conversation with your loved ones. Discuss the options. It may only mean that you or another family member stops in 3 times a week to tidy up. It could also mean that a little hired help in the home is in order. When things look really bad you can consider assisted living facilities, but often that’s not necessary.

Bottom line is that if you’re available and aware early on, you can catch things before they get out of hand and dangerous. Keep your parents safe and healthy, as they did for you.

If you’re looking for additional resources on eldercare and related subjects go to

If you’d like to stay connected, you can find Toni Patillo on, twitter: @tonipatillo and email: toni(at)tonipatillo(dotted)com(dotted)